Staff Focus: Lucia Hu

Written by: John McEnhill, Primary Coordinator

Hello Lucia! I hope you have enjoyed what is coming towards the end of your first year here. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you have come to be at YCIS Shanghai?

 I was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States when I was 5 years old.  I still remember going to school and EAL class, only knowing the words “yes,” “no,” and “ok.” My family had lived in South Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, and finally Southern California, so I know how it feels to be in transition.  I attended the University of California at Berkeley in Northern California and stayed in the San Francisco Bay Area until we moved to Beijing in 2013.  Although my undergraduate degree is in Mass Communications, after working for some years I returned to school for a Masters in Counselling Psychology.  My son was just turning 3 when we moved to Beijing for my husband’s work at United Family Hospital, and while there, I started to gain experience providing counselling for both the expat and local community.  Growing up I had retained my ability to speak Mandarin from watching soap operas, but there was still a period of working out the kinks of speaking smoothly while in Beijing.  After a year of having a personal tutor, I was finally able to read Chinese enough to use all the necessary apps by the time we moved to Shanghai.  After giving birth to our second son in Beijing, we moved to Shanghai in 2016 where I worked at the Community Center Shanghai, ELG, and then Raffles Clinic before coming to YCIS Pudong.

Tell us a little more about what your role as Regency Park Campus Counsellor involves?

Generally speaking, I work with students who may be experiencing challenges due to emotional or relational issues with students, teachers, or family.  This may mean meeting with parents and teachers, or observing a student in the classroom, in order to discuss what may be affecting a student’s behaviour or emotional reaction.  I could also provide limited individual counselling for students and families or refer them to professional counsellors in Shanghai.  I am also the Child Protection Officer for our campus and I work with our team of Child Protection Officers to update material, deliver and track trainings for staff, join regular committee meetings, follow through on child protections cases and documentation.

In the current situation, how do you feel the Counselling team has been able to support the students, and the wider community? 

As this Coronavirus situation expanded, one of the first things we all worried about was everyone’s level of possible stress and anxiety – whether for students, parents, or staff members.  I am thankful that there was a quick response from professionals in the community to create material on how to understand and respond to COVID-19 for families and how to communicate this situation to children.  For the age group of our primary students, mental and emotional health is intertwined and dependent on their parents’ and caretakers’ mental and emotional health.  Children usually develop anxiety because an adult in their daily environment is experiencing and displaying anxiety.  Therefore, when we first started e-Learning in February, I focused on getting information to parents about how to manage the e-Learning schedule, building in routines (ie. exercise, sleep, family time), managing our children’s behaviour with rewards and consequences.  We eventually focused on providing parent online support groups so that pressing concerns and struggles could be shared and discussed.  All of these efforts were to help the parent feel supported, feel more connected and less isolated, gain tips and ideas to help with a better sense of control or direction for their own unique challenges.  The focus to help reduce parental stress and anxiety also supports reducing our students’ possible anxiety.

How do you think pastoral care, and the role of Counsellors, supports students in their academic and wider life success?

 I think by now, most adults would agree that our life experience has plenty of rough and tough parts in relationships, feelings of inadequacy or failure, disappointments, making difficult decisions, and even physical challenges. Whether we can focus and perform to the best of our ability academically or pick ourselves up and keep going even in the face of loss or shame, oftentimes depends on our self-concept, emotional health and ability to cope.  This is precisely what pastoral care and school counsellors work to develop. Through various stories and activities, we try to guide how to frame concepts about self and of the world, success and failure, which helps to process and make choices in response to challenges.

Your son, Micah, is at YCIS Pudong, in Year 4 and Noah is in ECE. How are you finding YCIS Pudong from a parents’ point of view?

We are very thankful that Micah and Noah are able to attend YCIS Pudong.  They both enjoy the campus, their teachers and learning activities along with their classmates.  We, as parents, are super happy about the dual focus on English and Chinese, including Chinese studies, and the range of learning they have access to from computer to violin.  We have been excited for CCAs and access to IIIP on campus and during the school day.  We have also been impressed by the work and dedication of all the teachers and staff to coordinate and provide clear communication for all of these activities, holiday events and sports days.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like trying new restaurants, listening to music, singing and playing the guitar by myself – completely amateur so not for other ears J. Getting a massage and meeting for coffee with a friend is always rejuvenating.  I also love attending workshops and seminars as I feel excited about active learning in groups and being involved in group discussion. When I can schedule alone time, I sometimes enjoy practicing mindfulness in a walk outdoors focusing on the sights and sounds and my own movements.  I’m sure I look funny to a passer by.

As a family, we now love watching superhero movies to save the world vicariously while taking turns on the treadmill or being competitive while playing board games or foosball. We love travelling and nice hotels (who doesn’t?) and when the weather is nice, to go for a picnic in a park with a tent.

e-Learning is a YCIS Family Affair

Written by Janelle Garrett with contributions from the Samuel, Lucas, and Daniel Lewis and their mother, Kitty Potter

The Lewis family is a longtime YCIS family that joined our YCIS Pudong community four years ago after they moved from Beijing to Shanghai. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lewis family traveled to be near family in Sydney, Australia and then returned to Shanghai to quarantine in their home in March. According to the Lewis brothers Samuel ’22, Lucas ’25 and Daniel ’30 (the number indicates their graduating year), e-Learning is necessarily a family affair. The three brothers all shared some of their experiences with e-Learning as they figured out new ways to share space and get along, become more independent and creative with their learning, get their work done, learn to do some household chores, engage in physical activity, and have fun as a family.

Here are a few of their take-aways:

The flexibility of e – Learning can be a powerful force for learning.

 “While some people miss the structure of school, I prefer some of the flexibility e-Learning. I find it easier to manage my time and get work done, and even go deeper with my learning, while feeling less pressure. I really miss socialization of school, my friends and my activities. But I’m really talkative and attention-seeking, and in a traditional classroom I often get distracted or am distracting. This has been a good lesson in time management practice for IB, for university and for life. Having more choice over when and how I do my work, and even some of the content, makes me more interested and willing to invest more time and more of myself into it, which makes it more meaningful.”   Samuel, Year 11

“e-Learning is more convenient for me in some ways, I’m able to set my own time, I just got a big piece of work done instead of having to follow a really rigid schedule and stop doing something to go to the next thing when I just got going. This makes the workday a lot more efficient and liberating.”  Lucas, Year 8

Connection Matters.

“I love the Zoom sessions because I get to see my teachers and it is easier to know what you need to do later, I also love to see my friends and at the end of the session we get to chat. But I still can’t wait to go back to school and play football with my friends.”  Daniel, Year 3

“I miss people—my friends, even teachers. Zoom is better than nothing—it is really nice to get on a Homeroom call on Zoom and see everyone! But it’s nowhere near as engaging. It’s important to feel that connection. Being in person makes a huge difference”

“…I miss eating lunch with my friends. I’m a bit disappointed some people didn’t make it back before the borders in China closed, I hope things open up and they can come back soon. I’ve tried to stay connected with many of my friends calling them on Teams, and chatting on WeChat, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. Recently, I’ve also had friends coming over to my compound and hanging out, which is the best!”  Lucas, Year 8

“I really miss my friends and can’t wait to get back to school. The last few weeks as things are opening up in Shanghai have been so good because I’ve gone over to people’s houses and been able to recharge socially… I also realized I know a lot of people beyond just my classmates, from participating in activities like Model United Nations, World Scholars Cup, and various camps—and one of the best parts of COVID-19 has been connecting online with all of these friends around the world.”  Samuel, Year 11

Motivation is hard to master—and you can’t do it alone.

“Surprisingly I’ve been pretty motivated and disciplined, but motivation is dwindling. When the IGCSE Exams that we’d been preparing for over the past two years were cancelled, that was like a kick in the head, and it became a lot harder to stay motivated and not feel like we had wasted valuable time. I’ve appreciated Mr. Lee and my teachers reminding us about the important things we’ve learned along the way, that exceed what any exam can show. For example, I’m really enjoying the research I am currently doing in Science on the body’s immune system response to COVID-19. I learned a lot about myself during this time—I’m more capable of taking care of myself than I thought. But I’ve also discovered some things I can’t do on my own…and I’ve been very grateful for teachers, friends, and family that have helped me through it.”      Samuel, Year 11

“I can do more on my own now than when e-Learning started. But doing work on my own can get very frustrating. Sometimes I’m trying to think hard and my brain just wanders and I have to think what subject is this? And I wish I had my teacher, and it is hard because my parents can’t always help if they are working.”    Daniel, Year 3

You can have fun…even with your family.

“It hasn’t been easy, we’ve had a few fights since we are brothers, but actually we’ve had some really good family time. Being trapped with your family for several months has been a good bonding experience and we’ve had a lot of fun together and laughed a lot.”    Samuel, Year 11

“Our family sometimes plays cards after dinner, like Go Fish. We like basketball, especially my brother Lucas. My brother Sam plays Risk with his friend a lot too. I like playing videogames. My brothers play a lot of Nintendo.”  Daniel Year 3

“e-Learning in Australia was special and fun because I got to hang out with my family and play with other kids after classes were done and do things outdoors I can’t do in Shanghai.”    Lucas, Year 8

Their mother Kitty, has been busy juggling parenting responsibilities and e-Learning for three kids with her job at Apple leading the Asia division for Human Rights and Stakeholder Engagement as part of the Supplier Responsibility Team. Her husband Mathew shares parenting and e-Learning supervision duties whilst he negotiates working from home and meetings for the Morgan Lewis law firm.

“When Sam started in the K3 Panda Class at YCIS in Beijing, I had no idea 13 years later we would find ourselves still here in China with three boys all at YCIS Pudong. YCIS has been very important to our family and one of the constants in our busy lives and the many changes we have seen moving to different places around Greater China. At the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, Mathew and I felt like it was back-to-the-future, having lived through SARS back in Beijing. But this has been a wholly different experience.

I am so grateful we were able to spend the first part of the transition to eLearning in Sydney with family, close to beaches and parks where the boys could get their energy out. I thought constantly (and guiltily) about friends and school families back in China stuck inside apartments. It has been both impressive and touching observing the commitment to learning by the boys’ teachers, knowing that they are experiencing many of the same challenges and stresses balancing their personal and professional lives under the most extreme circumstances.

We were so excited and relieved to get home to Shanghai. Even though China is “getting back to normal,” this journey is far from over and there will be plenty of opportunities to consider what we’ve all been through and how this will change our world. My hope is that the boys, years from now, will be able to reflect on what they learned: how we have always taken for granted our ability to travel the world and visit family in the US and Australia; how much other people usually do for them (Thank You Cao Ayi and all the women who have helped our family function over the years); how important friendships and community are, and that relationships need to be nurtured.

The boys can’t wait to get back to school. Mat and I can’t wait either.

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally?

Written by: Ms Tania Smits, YCIS Parent and Professional Holistic Health Coach

What I have learned through experience is that when living a healthy lifestyle, your immune system is stronger. This can be evidenced by recovering more quickly from a cold to staying unaffected by the yearly flu altogether.

As a Holistic Health Coach, I can see my clients getting healthier and stronger by applying the methods I share in my Holistic Health education and training sessions.

As the world comes to grip with Covid-19 developments, there has been a lot of helpful information shared about prevention through personal hygiene. Practical advice includes washing our hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, using hand sanitisers, and covering our mouth and nose with a tissue or a sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

To keep our immune system healthy, it’s also suggested that we eat well, exercise, get enough rest, and take supplements, such as Vitamin C.

As a Coach, I completely agree with those recommendations, but I also look at keeping stress levels under control, connecting with your community, family, and friends, and engaging in a mindfulness practise. Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology – the study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease – suggests that our immune system becomes weakened when we’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Developing a strong immunity is like training a police force so that they’re on standby, ready for any attack. Just like a police force, you can actually build your immunity slowly and steadily, too.

Below you will find an overview of my professional recommendations for building a stronger immune system. Don’t try to do these perfectly; rather, implement the things you can maintain on a regular basis so that they become a habit.

FOOD

The food we eat gives our bodies the information and materials it needs to function properly. Our vegetable intake is oftentimes inadequate, and I recommend starting here.

You should eat five servings of vegetables each day, with each serving being the size of a small fist size.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • If you are far away from eating the five serving sizes today, simply try adding one more serving to what you are currently eating.
  • Say to yourself, “Every time I fill my plate, I serve vegetables first” as an easy way to remember to eat your vegetables.
  • Whenever you eat a snack, try choosing a serving of vegetables.
  • Drink a vegetable juice every time you have access to it. This is a quick way to add a lot of nutrients at once. You can easily include two serving sizes of vegetables in a juice. Add some ginger to spice it up or add a green apple for some sweetness. Avoid adding fruits other than green apples.
  • Each evening, calculate and record the number of servings of vegetables you had, and think of ways to add more.

Kitchen Remedies for Respiratory Health

Increase your intake of these three foods that I’ll bet you have in your kitchen right now!

They will help to ward off bugs and viruses:

  • Garlic: This is both antimicrobial and antiviral
  • Oregano: This spice has powerful antiseptic and antibiotic properties
  • Thyme: An excellent remedy for respiratory infections and coughs, Thyme can help you to cough out mucus and unsavoury invaders.

SUPPLEMENTS

If you are looking for immune health, choose these foods and/or supplements:

  • Vitamin C: Biggest immune booster
    • Oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, kiwi, spinach, kale, broccoli
  • Vitamin B6: Supports biochemical reactions in the immune system
    • Salmon, Tuna
    • Chicken
    • Chickpeas
    • Green vegetables
  • Vitamin D: “AKA sunlight”
    • It’s recommended to take a supplement (Vitamin D3 has the best absorption), especially during winter months
    • Might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression and anxiety.

WATER

Too little water intake can cause dehydration, headaches, or fatigue, and can compromise your immunity. Be sure to drink the recommended intake of water for your body each day.

EXERCISE

Several studies have found that exercise not only helps our heart health, circulation, and raises the oxygen levels in our body, but it also helps with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise in every day.

Since gyms are currently not open in China, think about other ways to get your exercise in. These are some (mostly free) options:

  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Go for a jog outside
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Download an online yoga class
  • Follow the Spartan 30 days Burpees Challenge WeChat group and guess what? You will be doing 30 burpees every day and can check in with hundreds of others also taking part in the challenge
  • Download the NTC (Nike Training) app from the app store. You can indicate the equipment you have access to, select the time and intensity level, and get started
  • Jump rope
  • Or jump on a Trampoline! You can buy one of those small trampolines in Decathlon and take regular breaks during the day to jump and get in some good exercise.

I suggest that to have the best success with this, you can involve your family members, friends, house mates, etc. in real life or online to motivate one another.

READING Covid-19 NEWS

 Be mindful of how much news you’re consuming these days. Whether it’s from social media groups or from “official sources.” Helpful questions you can ask yourself are:

  • “How much is the minimum amount I need to consume to stay aware?” and
  • “Which sources do I want to read?”

MINDFULNESS

Our immune system stands a better chance of resisting infection when we make a conscious effort to look after our physical and mental health. Mindfulness strength is like physical strength; it is like a muscle in your body. It grows only when it is nourished and exercised.

Here are some ideas on how to start your mindfulness practise:

  • Adult colouring books: Help reduce stress by engaging your mind in a relaxed way.
  • Yoga: Increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centres the nervous system.
  • Meditation:
    • I highly recommend ‘Headspace.com’ – and its free to do the basics for 10 days!
    • com: Free meditations to do at any time of the day, when waiting in line, when walking, when stressed, when having difficult emotions, when you can’t sleep
    • Louise Hay meditations
  • Box breathing:
    • Also known as (four-) square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths.
    • This can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.
      • Step 1: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head.
      • Step 2: Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
      • Step 3: Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen.
      • Step: 4: Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
      • REPEAT three more times (for a total of four breaths)

SLEEP

Researchers say adequate sleep helps T-cells in your body fight off infection. Most adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night for improved health and well-being.

With the current Covid-19 disease situation, you may find yourself have a harder time falling asleep. I hope these practical tips will help you:

  • Create a sleep routine; going to bed around the same time each night
  • Do not read news (especially Covid-19 related) right before going to bed
  • Do not charge your digital devices next to your bed; if you leave your phone in your bedroom, switch it to airplane mode
  • Do not eat right before going to bed, especially heavy meals as this might cause digestive upset
  • Drink an herbal infusion as part of a relaxation routine in the evening
  • Sleep in a cool and dark room
  • Your daily exercise will help you to feel physically tired at night
  • Your meditation routine will help you to put your mind at ease. Additionally, you can listen to some guided meditations from Buddify or Headspace if you find it hard to fall asleep.

Building your immune system is not difficult, but it requires continuous efforts. Even small efforts pay off, so start today and build along the way. Start training your police force and make them ready for future attacks, especially in unique times like we are experiencing today.

For more information about Tanja Smits and her Holistic Health practice, or to contact her, please email: healthy@tanjasmits.com.

Sustainable Development Goals Building Future

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) Member States with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of all people by 2030. Much progress has already been made in meeting the 17 Goals, but more work needs to be done in the decade to come. Last year, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilise for a decade of action. Institutions, governments, and private sector organisations need to be at the forefront of this change, and people, including the youth, need to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.

At YCIS, the school is committed to inspiring students to take part in this change from a very young age. That’s why last month, YCIS Pudong campuses organised an ‘SDG Fair’ to educate students about the 17 global Sustainability Development Goals. To create collaboration between different sections of the school and encourage work between different class levels, Year 12 students were asked to lead the fair’s activities for K4 and Primary students as a ‘Creativity, Activity, Service’ (CAS) project, as part of their International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) curriculum.

In preparation for the fair, the students studied the SDGs and reflected on each individual’s part in contributing to them. Then, the Year 12 students took on the responsibility of highlighting one of the SDGs, creating posters and brochures, organising different activities for the fair, where they showcased their individual goals and targets and explained what is being done to support their goals in China.

During the all-day SDG Fair, the Year 12 students then presented their work to the students at Regency Park Campus. In an exhibition-like event, the younger students moved from one station to another to learn about the various goals, and each Year level was allotted a time to participate in the activities. When talking about the challenges of organising the fair, Elena, YCIS Pudong Secondary student, recalled: “One of the biggest challenges in the organisation of the fair was to ensure that all of the brochures, presentations, and activities were well suited and appealing to young children. Many of us don’t have experience working with children, and it took several rounds of discussions and editing before our material reached the conciseness and effectiveness that we were aiming for. Throughout this process, we helped one another and learned through collective ideas.”

By working on this project, Year 12 students were able to develop a better understanding of the SDGs’ importance both internationally and domestically and were empowered to realise that they are an integral part of creating change. The project also helped them develop their research skills, collaboration with others, and public speaking.

At the same time, by learning about these goals,the Regency Park Campus students gained different perspectives about global issues, such as gender equality and lack of access to clean water. By being introduced to topics such as poverty, hunger, and high-quality education, they began to understand the unique challenges facing communities all over the world that they may not have known about before.

Learning about the SDGs is nevertheless a year-round process at YCIS. For example, the IB Geography class is centered around the Sustainable Development Goals, and there is an SDGs-dedicated school assembly every month, during which a different goal is discussed and becomes the focus of that month.

The SDGs are also closely related to YCIS Service Learning, as most of the community and service activities address one or several goals. During Service-Learning events, students collaborate with different school members, meet like-minded people, and make connections in the broader community, sparking more ideas through combined efforts, and taking a step closer to realising the aims of the SDGs.

According to Mr Dudley Stuurman, Social Sciences Teacher, CAS Coordinator, and World Classroom Coordinator at YCIS Pudong, “To solve the world’s biggest challenges, we strive to encourage our students to be active participants in their local and global communities. Children that are in school today will grow up to be adults in an increasingly interconnected and multicultural society. They will need empathy to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives. Learning about SDGs from a very young age will contribute to building compassion in children and will help them become passionate, engaged adults”.

At YCIS, projects like this help students truly develop a critical understanding of topics such as the SDGs and allow them to delve deeply in learning why SDGs are necessary, leading them to be inspired to make positive changes — whether in big or in small ways — to the world around them.

Celebrating 2020 Chinese New Year

Writer: Michelle Wang (ECE Chinese Coordinator); Sissy Shen (Primary Chinese Coordinator); Amy Yang (Secondary Chinese Coordinator)

Dear Parents and Students,

Happy New Year! We hope you are all well.

In the past, Chinese New Year has traditionally been a time of gathering and celebration with family and friends and we always look forward to a longer holiday. However, the Spring Festival holiday in 2020 has been a little different, a holiday we didn’t expect at all! Under the clear sky and the bright sunshine, our YCIS campus is unusually quiet and strictly under the protection of our campus security. Although this matter is worrying, as long as we really understand the situation, deal with it correctly, and maintain physical and mental health, we are sure that we will win this battle. We also want you to know that at this time, there are so many people around us who are working hard to find ways to control the spread of this virus and ensure the health and safety of everyone, as well as teachers and all the YCIS Community members have been dedicated to supporting each other.

In this particular situation, we would also suggest parents take this as an educational opportunity to discuss some topics such as: life, freedom, environment, earth, kindness, gratitude, courage, truth and community of common destiny with children. Therefore, ECE and Y1 teachers have shared some related resources, from Y2 and above in Chinese Studies we launched PBL (project based learning) tasks. These will shape the perspectives of the students and support their future development through giving them a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset as global citizens. More information and resources have been shared by teachers through the online learning platform. We also see improvements in the quality of the e-Learning every day, while also acknowledging its challenges. It’s brand new to all of us; quite an adjustment! We are collecting feedback from teachers every day and also from students to ensure we make incremental improvements to our e-Learning offerings. The first two weeks have shown a high level of engagement in our online learning platforms by our students.

Thank you again for partnering with us during this unprecedented time. We can still remember the last school event before the Spring Festival which was full of happiness and laughter. As one of our major traditions, we celebrated the Chinese New Year with special events from ECE to Secondary. We would like to take this opportunity to give you a quick review of the 2020 Chinese New Year celebration events, and to offer our sincere thanks to everyone who has given their time, talents and enthusiasm.

ECE

The traditional festival is the best time for ECE students to learn and understand Chinese Culture. We arranged various activities, including Art, storytelling and new year’s dance to enrich children’s experience. The ECE invited lots of parents to participate in Chinese New Year and cultural celebrations. K2 parents brought dumplings (Jiaozi), teaching children to have the experience of dumpling making. This was a great opportunity for children and parents have fun together. K3 children and their parents worked together to make the hand-made Chinese Zodiac character of the rat. K4 children learned to write Chinese characters ‘Fu’ and ‘spring’ with the calligraphy teacher, in addition to using regular script to write the Chinese characters, K4 children experienced the Chinese characters in small seal script. The children clearly benefited from these experiences.

PRIMARY

In Primary, each year level had their own theme this year: Y1: Traditional Festivals; Y2: Traditional Art; Y3: Living in Shanghai; Y4: Chinese Food; Y5: Chinese Treasures; Y6: Traditional Games. There were many amazing cultural activities students experienced in line with to their theme over the entire Chinese Culture Week. The Y5 and Y6 students also designed and organised their own activities and invited the younger Year 1-4 students to visit the Century Park Campus Learning Communities to share their knowledge. Another highlight of the week was the external professional art studio, who were running collaborative art workshops for all Primary students. All these art pieces have been displayed in the corridors at both Pudong campuses. If you pass by, you will definitely be amazed! Parents also had a taste of Chinese theme painting, experiencing the joy of art.

The Chinese New Year Celebration Night on January 17 before the holiday break was another successful and unforgettable event. Inspiration came from the Temple Fair. With 32 activities, including games, Art, PE, ICT, and more, there really was something for all members of the community to enjoy. All the decorations were amazing. The performance was also a big hit once again – the poetry, traditional dance and instruments, Kungfu, Peking Opera and choir, all exhibiting the skills the students learned in their Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). We also appreciate our Secondary Students offering their time, through service learning, to support the games rooms as well as organising interactive games and quizzes. All the YCIS community worked together to make it a wonderful night!

SECONDARY

As you might know, Chinese people begin their preparations for the Chinese New Year more than 20 days ahead. Much earlier than before the actual new year came, our Lower Secondary students received a new and exciting task: they were going to take on the mission of decorating Century Park campus to welcome in the Spring Festival. The theme was: “万象更新”, which means “Everything takes on a completely new look”. It suddenly sparked a load of latent creativities, but could we do our collaborative work more effectively?

Chinese teachers introduced them to “The Design Process”, which gave them a more streamlined approach to their work. They followed the suggested steps: using iPads to measure and record figure, collecting all the relevant information, brainstorming and analysing ideas, and even building demos/models during their presentations in class. The most crucial part was “Seeking Feedback”. They interviewed our front office team, librarians, and the canteen manager. After improving their designs, they started to decorate the campus by themselves. When all the pieces came together, and all the ideas became real, the campus really “took on a completely new look”.

Their enthusiasm for designing continued over the holiday. Although we had to cancel our Secondary Lantern Festival House Event due to the current situation, some of our Secondary students still expressed their wishes by sharing their DIY lanterns from home. We hope those lanterns bring warmth to the families in Wuhan and bring more courage and confidence to all of us.

As we look back on these moments, we look forward more to the moment of reunion and to everyone returning to campus when the spring flowers bloom. Thank you again for living out the essence of the YCIS motto of love and care.

Happy Spring Festival, wishing you good health and success throughout the new year!

Regards,

Michelle, Sissy and Amy

Learning Environments: Preparing our Students for the Future

Written by: Christine Carey, Head of Student Support/Learning Community Coordinator

At YCIS, we have committed to creating learning environments that do just that by moving toward learning communities over distinct classrooms. This year our Year 5, Year 6 and IB students have been able to learn with this collaborative approach in renovated spaces that encourage meaningful talk, movement and more student accountability. Next year we will extend learning communities concept to other areas of the school.

All teachers in learning communities this year have reported a significant change in their ability to communicate and collaborate to improve student learning since they are not confined to classrooms and separated by walls. In their own efforts to work together in year levels, they are modeling this approach for students. Leaders continue to think, discuss and communicate with others to direct a way forward. Teachers continue to learn, adapt and modify their teaching to best serve the students. These are all skills that we encourage our students to also embody.

We are very excited to host select primary staff members from YCIS Beijing who have been teaching in learning communities for several years now. They will meet with teachers, leaders and parents to offer insight into their journey so that we can benefit from their learning. We believe our parent community will be very interested in hearing how this approach to learning has impacted on student approaches to learning and achievement.

Our end goal is to immerse students in an environment where they are able to learn how to communicate effectively, work together with their peers, interpret problems critically and then solve them creatively. This is preparing them as the future leaders of our world.

What Have I Learned about the Importance of Charity?

Written by: Hayley Chu, Y12 student 

From a young age, we are all taught the lesson of giving to others, but YCIS takes this a step further; the concept of charity is literally in the motto, “Yew Chung will align with Love and Charity.” Community and Service (CAS) is a core part of the curriculum, with a requirement of 10 CAS hours per semester. There are various CAS opportunities available to students, from volunteering at school events to tutoring younger students. IB students have to undertake one Community, Activity & Service (CAS) project, which could include organising the MAD Run or running a CCA.

However, opportunities aren’t confined to the classroom walls; Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) and Seeds of Hope trips allow students to demonstrate love and charity in many ways, like assisting at a pregnancy clinic in the Philippines, volunteering at a primary school in Anhui, or doing construction work in Thailand.

My most memorable experience would have to be participating in a feeding scheme in a rural village in the Philippines. The locals were living in tiny shacks, walking on dirt ground in flip-flops… It was the first time I was experiencing poverty with my own eyes, and to say it was eye-opening would be an understatement. Yet, when these people were living under such drastic conditions, I was surprised by how optimistic they were, with the children greeting us playfully and the adults inviting us to their homes. After all the porridge was distributed, we played games with the children, whose smiles and laughter I will never forget. Not only did I become fully aware of how fortunate and privileged I was to live in a comfortable home, the knowledge that I had brought happiness to a child’s day and nourishment for a hungry family was what made the experience immensely meaningful.

In the classroom, we’re encouraged to devote time for charitable activities, and it is through venturing out of the classroom to the real world that we begin to appreciate and understand the importance of charity, not just to make a difference for those in need, but to learn about the global community around us today.

Parent Relations: A Time to be United

Written by: Roseline Yang, Parent Relations Officer

In this extraordinary situation, this is the time for each of us to bond and to be united, to support each other, to understand, to connect and to reconnect regardless of our views, perception and understanding of the current situation because it impacts on all of us.

Who would have suspected that…after the exciting evening we spent together to celebrate Chinese New Year Family Celebration on Friday, January 17, we would not be able to see each other again for so long?

I can still remember how right after Christmas Holidays, all our school teachers, students and parents were busy with decorating and getting involved in the ECE & Primary Week of Chinese Culture and Chinese New Year Celebration. Some parents came to tell stories in the ECE, others came to share their Chinese Calligraphy or Chinese Painting skills with the students, not to forget the great artist and his team who came to surprise all of us with their outstanding painting techniques making each of the participant feel like an extraordinary artist.

And yes! There were also all the beautiful costumes and delicious food prepared by parents for their child’s class! There was even one group of parents and children who made time to rehearse after school toget ready for the performance on that celebration night!

I can still remember how busy it was also for parents who attended the Transition Meetings of Year 6 to Lower Secondary and K4 to Year 1, not to mention the parents who, called on a short notice, still made the time to help us give their insights and ideas regarding school report systems and Parent Ambassador programme. The core members of the Parent Organization of Pudong (POP), whose focus is to support and enhance the community spirit of the school, were also starting to plan the activities for after Chinese New Year Holidays, such as the Second-hand book sorting and sale during Parent Teacher Interviews or the Annual Staff Appreciation planned during the week of the International Day of Happiness!

Even after that busy period, I still dared to ask on the last 2 days before the holidays for the help of some parent volunteers to work on a Board Game sorting project because it was something that had been promised to a colleague back in August. I was so grateful and touched that there were still parent volunteers coming together with their children to join and support me going through two big boxes of Mathematica & Science and Literacy games!

Who could have predicted that our plans and intentions would have to be reviewed?

Everyone needed another holiday break to restart fresh from our hard work…but who honestly would have predicted that this newly discovered virus would not only prevent families and friends to get together to celebrate the most important and joyful festival of China?

In this unfortunate and unprecedent situation impacting the whole country’s people, systems functioning and economy, I was truly impressed by how our school leaders set-up a whole new system from scratch to be able to support and offer an online programme  for students. This has been a learning curve since the beginning (and it will continue to be so) for every member of the school community, because no one had ever been prepared for this situation.

However, this has definitely highlighted the heart of our organization, which is focused on the close partnership of the teachers and the parents working for the benefits of the children’s learning and wellbeing.

Everyone is surely wishing to be done with this period and to go back to our “normal lives and routine”. But what if we were just to embrace the “Now”? What if we were to use this situation to teach our children to practice resilience, flexibility, identify our own strengths, develop our communication channels by sharing what works and what can be improved to? What if we just came together as united and therefore stronger?

Having personally worked closely in partnership with every member of our school community, from leaders, to support staff, academic, non-academic, even external partners, not to mention the key players of our organization (teachers and parents), I can tell you that YCIS is made up of extraordinary individuals that are clear about the purpose of what they do, which is to work for this unique and same goal to support the learning and growth of our students.

In this extraordinary time, let’s make the best of this situation we are “trapped-in” and let’s take our best weapons to fight together: our YCIS Team Spirit made ofLove & Caring that made our students win so many gold medals in any competitions (football, robotics, performing arts). Together Everyone Achieves More, much more. Let’s come together as this is just the perfect time to be united and to shine.

To read more about our school’s mission, principles and practices, please click here.To support our school’s mission and share your unique talent knowledge, skills and expertise during this extra-ordinary time, feel free to contact me: roseline.yang@sh.ycef.com

Meet Our New Artists Gabe and Haruka Ostley

Written By: John McEnhill, Primary Coordinator

Welcome to YCIS, Gabe and Haruka! I hope you have enjoyed your first few weeks here. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you have come to be at YCIS Shanghai?

GABE: Our family feels very blessed to be here in Shanghai, and these past few weeks have already been chock full of all kinds of adventures!

Haruka and I met in Savannah, Georgia at Savannah College of Art & Design. Shortly after graduation Haruka asked me to drive her to the airport as she wanted to try singing in a Japanese Opera Company in New York City. This was a big surprise as I had only known her as a painter and didn’t even know about her passion for performance. I drove her to the airport thinking she’ll audition and then hopefully live with me back where I’m from in Minnesota. Haruka is always full of surprises, and within a couple of days she called to say that she passed the audition and that she found an apartment in Brooklyn. Of course, I had to follow her, and after doing a variety of jobs in New York I landed a job at a children’s book illustration agency in Manhattan. It was great experience, as I got to work with a variety of illustrators and publishers including Scholastic, Disney, and Cartoon Network. My passion is comic books though, and though I was able to get some work done for a comics newspaper as well as an original poster published and sold internationally, I still didn’t feel I had enough time to work on my own original works.

That’s when I got an email from my college saying Dr. Chan was looking for Artists-in-Residence for her schools in China and Hong Kong. I was extremely lucky to get chosen, and soon found myself in Hong Kong for the first time wondering what on earth I would be doing. Haruka at this point was singing in Lincoln Center and starting classes at the prestigious Stella Adler school for acting. She told me to enjoy the adventure and would join me in Hong Kong after her classes ended in one year. And she did just that.

I’ll never forget during my first week, Reverend Choy telling me that the job of an Artist-in-Residence was twofold. To develop myself as an artist and to do as much as I could to work with and inspire the students and staff at Yew Chung. With this mission statement in mind, I was able to do all kinds of work over the years. My work expanded from drawing and illustration to sculpture, recycled art, murals, mosaics, and even film making and animation. 

Haruka: Yes, at that point, I was jealous of Gabe’s job and his community in YCIS. I was working for an Interior Design company in HK for my first year there and then I introduced myself to YCIS. I also had a blast making murals, theatre sets, short films, mosaics, installations, art performances etc… The job expanded to allow us all kinds of amazing opportunities to travel to other campuses in China and make artwork with students in Qingdao and Shanghai as well. We enjoyed the collaborations with students of all age levels alongside amazing enthusiastic teachers over the years. Recently I’ve enjoyed working on interior design projects for several different YCIS ECE campuses, and the exciting Discovery Space in Hong Kong.

Gabe: During this time, I was also lucky enough to have my comics published by DC Comics and to travel to San Diego Comic Con and show my work there. I also completed several graphic novels with different artists and writers, and adapted an award-winning play with writer Declan Greene for the Cincinnati Review. I was able to share this work with the students and staff at Yew Chung through several workshops and exhibitions.Somewhere in there Haruka and I managed to get married and have our first son, Ren, too!

Wanting to reconnect with the growing family in the USA, we decided to move to Portland Oregon in 2015 and had a great time getting to know all the new cousins, have another son, Noah, and working as freelance artists.

Haruka’s work really expanded and developed into something special. I also made more comics and won a Literature Grant from Portland Regional Arts and Culture Committee to work on a graphic novel with Haruka entitled “Bokura.” Plus, just for fun, I started a podcast about movies with a local musician there called “Neighbourhood Watch.”

Of course, we never lost our connection with the Yew Chung family, and continued to do some collaborations with different campuses during this time. We were asked, “When are you coming back for longer?” And the chance to work in Shanghai came up, and we just couldn’t refuse.

It’s been a fantastic opportunity and we are really enjoying our time here.

What exactly is the role of an artist in residence, and why it is important?

HARUKA: We also ask ourselves a lot about this question. For the past 4 years, I worked on several murals in residential buildings in Portland. My commissioned artwork now hangs in public clinics and buildings. And right before our departure to Shanghai, I worked on creating a 90 foot long mural for The Family and Justice Centre in Seattle. Collaborating with several youths of difficult backgrounds and situations really opened up my sense of what it means to be an artist. Why do we need art? Why do we do what we do? Art has the power to lift up people’s spirit. Art can be a tool to unite people. Art can make people smile and feel proud. There are so many forms of art. Though often the world seems to cut down the value of art, in reality, I believe we need more of it. And the value of it needs to be shared and experienced when people are still young and fresh. We would like to be the bridge between our professional world as artists, and the Yew Chung community at large. What does it mean to think like an artist? We believe Art is a means for

1. Problem Solving (Finding a way to express one’s idea)
2. Dialogue between people (Asking ourselves some questions and provoking conversations)
3. Bringing out love and caring to the world.

Any of these qualities that we strive to seek can cross over to any subject students are learning in school. We would like to be an extra collaborator on anything that students are curious about, and that teachers are seeking to achieve. We are also excited to initiate different ways to interact with students and parents. If your child is interested in art, what does it mean for his/her career? What types of artistic jobs are there? If your children started to be interested in drawing it doesn’t mean they will be starving on the streets in the future. If their passion was guided well, and nurtured correctly, that person can make a change in the world. We are thrilled to be a guide to loving art and bringing out the best of one’s creative mind. It is because we love and value what we do.

Your two sons, Noah and Ren, are at Regency Park Campus. Tell us a little bit about how they are settling in to life in Shanghai and at YCIS?

BOTH:  Ren is completely blossoming at Regency Park. He is making so many friends and enjoying all of the new challenges and excitement here in a new country. We’re especially thankful for this as we were very worried he would miss his old school. Happily, he doesn’t talk about his old school at all, and even told us he loves learning Chinese!

Noah has had a harder time adjusting. His teachers and classmates have been great, but it is his first time going to any school, and he’s a bit overwhelmed.

HARUKA: I totally understand where Noah is at too. I grew up in four different continents due to my father’s job. So not speaking the same language can make you feel lonely. That being said, just like I did too, once there, he has quite a bit of fun with all of the activities and healthy snacks. So, we’re sure he’s on his way to loving it just as much as his older brother.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

GABE:  My spare time is all about movies, books, music, and food. Is there anything else? I guess I’m trying to exercise more. I just ordered a treadmill and hope to get some advice from YCIS Physical Education Teachers.

HARUKA: I can join that too! At this moment, I am busy going through my chemotherapy for the breast cancer that I just found out recently upon our arrival to Shanghai. Well, that’s another long story! Life is full of adventure. I’m already learning a lot along this path. Hope I get to share that in the best possible way in the future.

Learn more about Gabe and Haruka at the following websites:

http://www.ru-ostley.com Haruka’s Website
http://gabeostley.blogspot.com/?m=1 Gabe’s Blog
https://www.gabrukahouse.com/about Gabe and Haruka’s Website

Benjamin Kolf with the Rangers Football Club

Written by: Andrea Griego, Character Education & Life Skills Coordinator

Benjamin Kolf, also known as Benji, in Y6A is one of YCIS Pudong’s football stars. He is described as a “mad keen football player” by Athletic Director, Matt Uffindall and has represented the school in football since playing on the U8 league. As he has progressed through the school, he has had a number of opportunities to be coached by YCIS staff,  Multisports coaches, and in most recent years by the Glasgow Rangers Academy coaching staff.

The Glasgow Rangers Academy, exclusively hosted at YCIS Pudong, has provided YCIS students with high-level coaching staff that has helped grow not only their football skills but their collaboration and intrapersonal skills as a football team member. These skills have been key in developing a well-rounded athlete and have provided a unique opportunity for athlete, Benjamin Kolf.

Benji, during games and practices, caught the eye of Rangers Academy Head Coach Ross Fawcett. Benji displayed the skills and focus necessary to be considered for the elite program held in Glasgow this year. “When I was asked by Coach Ross whether I wanted to attend the Glasgow Rangers Elite Development Program in Scotland this year, I was at first a bit scared as I thought I had to travel on my own. But when my father told me that he’ll travel with me from Shanghai to Glasgow, I felt relieved and now I’m really looking forward to it” said Benji.

Not only is Benji excited about this opportunity, but his father is too, “Benji is a passionate football player and I’m very glad that he has been given the opportunity to attend such a camp at a professional football club. It will give him a unique chance to learn more about all angles of football. I’m confident that it will further develop his physical, technical and mental skills. It will also be good learning for him being together with other young football players and professional coaches outside of China.” His father also admits that he is looking forward to spending one week with Benji in Scotland and he’s sure they will have a lot of fun.

Good luck Benji and know that YCIS is rooting for you!